Do you know just how bad multi-tasking is for your brain?
There have been a few things playing on my mind recently. They seem to be popping up everywhere, a tweet here, a little blog post there. Even unexpectedly overheard in conversations of those around me. Conversations that are in no way influenced by me. It's 01:03 am and I know I should be asleep, or at least in bed grabbing desperately at those elusive Z's which are oh so very important for our well being. However, I am aware that if I don't get these thoughts down on paper, or screen, they will continue to whirl around my mind, burning a hole, eluding me from that much needed snooze.
A few weeks ago I wrote How To Avoid Distraction Whilst Working From Home . I set out with the best of intentions to put a stop to being distracted, in all honesty - I failed. Delving deeper into this field, I can see that the culprit in aiding my distraction, is my very well practiced art of multitasking. After listening to The Unsorry Podcast "Is Multi-Tasking Short Fusing Our Brains? I've become much more aware of how much I multi-task without even realising it, and quite frankly it's scary.
It has been scientifically proven that we are more productive, produce a higher quality of work, are less stressed and more content when we focus on singular tasks. As humans we aren't wired to multi-task, it actually goes against our nature and instinct. Not only does it cause higher levels of anxiety, lower levels of rest - something our mind and bodies need - it also aids in short term memory loss. What what steps am I taking to beat this habit ASABP (As soon as bloody possible).
Each night I sit and write a to-do list, planning everything I will do the following day. Blocking times for tasks, breaks, meals etc. Even down to planning when I'll allow myself onto Instagram - a wonderland where time doesn't exist, a least not me that is.
I also drew up a rough plan for my typical week. I work varying hours depending on the day, finding it tough to fit in exercise, work, the blog, and everything else I need to tick off my long to do list on an average week day. By sitting down and writing a clear time table of my week I've been able to really see where I can fit things in.
I've really been incredibly present and mindful during each day which is exhausting however necessary when it comes to realising how, when and where you're multi-tasking in your life. For me, it was pretty much at all times. I've been really strict with myself and each time I notice I'm trying to do more than one thing at once, I stop, re-group and focus on one task at a time. It's been tough!
Not Expecting Too Much Of Myself
I'm a complete over achiever, yet I rarely tick all of the things off on my to-do list in a day. I expect way too much of myself. I have started writing my to do list with my realistic head on allowing plenty of time for each task.
Eating Without Distractions
Eating whilst texting, uploading a photo of what you're eating on to Instagram and typing away at your computer/laptop catching up on work. Does this sound familiar? I've put a stop to it, making myself sit down and eat distraction free, AT THE DINING ROOM TABLE three times a day. For the first time in a very very long time, I'm actually tasting the food I eat and really enjoying it. I've also found that I stay fuller for longer, this probably has a lot to do with being mindful about the quantity i'm eating rather than just shoveling it in and going back for seconds or erm...thirds.
Putting My Phone Out Of Reach
Oh phone, I love you dearly. You keep me in contact with the world, with my other half, family, friends, co-workers, work emails and all of those unwanted newsletters I receive on a daily basis. You are also the cause of much wasted time and procrastination. When I sit down to complete a big task - such as writing a post or planning classes I pop my phone in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind. Once the task is complete I give myself a little phone time reward.
I wrote this post last Saturday night, a week later and I have been following these rules to the absolute best of my abilities. What have I noticed in just this short period of time?
- The habit is actually not as difficult as I initially thought it would be to crack. I'm already starting to get used to focusing all of my effort and attention on one thing.
- Relief - it sounds silly but it actually felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders when I realised that I was doing more harm than good multi-tasking. I have allowed myself to slow down somewhat and that feels really good.
- Stress levels are much lower. I'm not so tightly wound up.
- Pride in everything I do - now that i'm giving 100% of myself to each thing I do I'm getting so much more pride out of it. From a class plan to writing up feedback, a blog post or cooking dinner. There's something really quite special about feeling proud of what you've created.
- I feel like I'm a little more present, rather than thinking about a thousand things at once. Walking to work whilst checking social media, I actually walk to work and look up. It's sad to think of how much I missed out on as I tried to "make the most" of every moment, when I was actually allowing most of those moments to pass by unbeknownst to me.
I am going to continue to stick to these steps, I'd love to know if you've found yourself multi-tasking and if you knew about the effect it has on our minds, as when I found out I was shocked.
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